Competitive intelligence (CI), also mentioned as business intelligence, is often seen because the business world’s undercover agent 007. Although no spy planes or pinpoint cameras are used, competitive intelligence is, according to the Society for Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP), “a systematic and ethical program for gathering, analyzing, and managing external information that may affect [the firm’s] plans, decisions, and operations. Specifically, [CI] is that the legal collection and analysis of knowledge regarding the capabilities, vulnerabilities, and intentions of business competitors, conducted by using information databases and other ‘open sources’ and thru ethical inquiry.” In other words, CI is that the company’s radar.
Companies use CI for any number of reasons: assessing a competitor’s strategies, defining the competitive landscape, discovering and assessing trends within the industry, or identifying new opportunities that may not have surfaced earlier within the competitive analysis process. CI is not research, because it is more forward looking, neither is it industrial espionage, because it’s legal, but rather a scientific and timely process for understanding this competitive environment. When combined with internal firm analysis, CI can provide a manager with a more complete picture of the selections that require to be made to retain the firm’s competitive advantage.
CI is effective for several reasons. It can both help decrease the possibility for risk and help the firm avoid unnecessary or additional costs. In terms of savings, it can increase revenues and save time, which translates into cost savings. CI also provides information for innovation, development, and targeted marketing by validating trends, clarifying events, and providing discovery and insightful information.
Because any effective strategic marketing plan requires that a firm keep close track on an everyday basis of the competitors’ plans and actions, there are variety of the way that CI is done. to search out out information about the competition, the subsequent are some obvious or not-so-obvious places where information about the competition can be found:
✔ Annual reports. Annual reports of publicly held companies are an obvious and simply accessible thanks to find out how a competitor is revealing itself to its shareholders.
✔ Press releases. Most firms distribute press releases to come up with public relations. Often, the firm will post these on its computing machine. It is advisable to review the press releases over some months’ time to induce a giant picture view of where the competitor’s strategy is heading.
✔ Trade magazines. Trade magazines provide an up-to-date and in-depth analysis of the industry and where that industry appears to be headed.
✔ Vendors/partners/customers. Another source of solid competitor information is that the patterns of vendors, partners, and customers.
✔ Salespeople. Salespeople are often very willing to speak about their companies and supply information that gives insight into the direction the competition is heading.
✔ Networking. within the process of making a network for generating business for the firm, it’s possible to listen to about the activity of the competition merely through observing the activities or events the senior leadership attends.
✔ Local news outlets. Often local, regional, and national news sources track the activities of local private companies.
✔ 10-Ks and 10-Qs. A public company’s SEC filings are especially helpful when considered as an evolving story over a period of years.
✔ External research or professional organizations. Often the most effective place to seek out information a couple of company is an occasion at which representatives of the corporate are asked to speak. this might be at any professional organization’s monthly meetings or annual conference. additionally, there are many online resources, including organizations such as Hoover’s or Dun & Bradstreet, which help if time or money could be a limitation.
✔ Internet. Search engines is a useful source of data. For example, once the names of the competitors’ senior management team are available, it’s possible to plug a name into a groundwork engine and reveal a number of knowledge. Search engines may include sources like www.google.com or www.boardreader.com and even www.cnet.com.